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Blessed!

There is no better way to spend the day than by praising God for the ultimate gift of love…the sacrifice of His own flesh and blood…to save me from the sins I have committed against Him.

The icing on the cake was spending this time surrounded by the ones I love.

Happy Easter!

May you always remember this day for what it is and not for what “society” deems it to be.

A Birthday Celebration

Today I turn 43.

Happy Birthday to me!

I started celebrating a little early…as in yesterday.

I’d carefully planned out my week, working many, many hours so that I could enjoy the rest of my week.

Every year, about this time, I make an hour and a half trek to a yarn store that has been one of my favorites over the years.  The night before, I texted my friend, Maegan, to see if she wanted to join me.  She did, and I picked her up around 11.

Maegan and I work together, but we don’t get to talk for long periods of time because we are too busy teaching our students.  She won our school’s Teacher of the Year…a testament to how fabulous she is.  The kids and staff adore her.  Spending quality time away from school and the stresses of life was something I knew I’d treasure.

Off we went!

She took a couple of pictures as we crossed the bridge.  As you can see, the weather was PERFECT!

Our first stop was the yarn store…actually the FIRST of the day (we saw the other one I used to visit on the way and made plans to stop on our way back).

Maegan was probably the most patient non-knitting person I’ve ever gone yarn shopping with.  She was mesmerized by the samples that had been worked up.  She pet the various skeins of yarn and listened patiently as I explained things like marrying the right yarns and patterns together.

What a friend!

I took full advantage of the 20% birthday coupon that I had received in the mail and left with these in my bag…

Malabrigo Lace in Indigo

A girl can never have too much Malabrigo!  I see this becoming a shawl…one day.

This is a sock yarn I’ve never heard of.  When I touched it, I could not stop.  It begged to come home with me.  I hate to let a yarn’s cries go untended.

😀

The yarn store is in the cutest little tourist area, fraught with adorable shops.

We visited a cupcake bakery that was uber-homey inside…

Alas…I inquired about vegan cupcakes, and the gal responded in the negative.  Oh well.  I guess I saved myself a few calories.

We also stepped into a pet supply store that has unique home-baked furry baby treats.  I didn’t take any photos.  I didn’t buy a thing either!  Go me!

Another shop that caught Maegan’s attention was a vintage clothing store.

The place had a funky smell, but we still had a good time holding up “interesting” items.

I found myself a dress to wear on Monday nights when I watch Dancing With the Stars

No, I didn’t really buy it, but the thought did cross my mind!

Next up was a trip to Goodwill.

Yes, that’s right.

Goodwill.

Maegan had almost had heart failure when she’d seen one on the way to the yarn store.  At first, I was a little worried…until she told me that she LOVES to shop at Goodwill and had not been to the one we’d just passed.  I had promised that we’d go back, so we did.

Confession time.

Although I’ve donated things to Goodwill, I’ve never actually shopped there.

Oh word, but Maegan was in her element, and she quickly brought me up to speed on the ins and outs of shopping there.

We found a beautiful white prom dress and considered buying it just in case one of our students couldn’t afford the cost.  In the end, we decided not to because the dress was a little too sheer, and we didn’t think any of our girls would actually wear it.

After shopping awhile, we left without buying anything.

It was time to find the other yarn store, where I purchased the following yarn…

This is a cotton blend, and there was a sample of the Chincoteague Shawl knit up with a different colorway.  It’s a beautiful shawl, and the yarn stripes out beautifully as well.  I can’t wait to cast on!

After spending nearly an hour in the shop, we headed in the direction of home…or should I say in the direction of a second Goodwill store…one in which the owner of the second yarn store had assured us was a much better Goodwill to shop at.

Oh word.

Was.

It.

Ever.

It certainly didn’t take me long to catch on to Goodwill shopping!

As we shopped, I couldn’t believe that we actually needed a buggy!

Maegan taught me how to look at the shoes and determine if they’d been worn much.

We had fun trying on shoes.  She actually had to help me figure out how to strap on one pair…

Yes, I am THAT girl…still so awkward at times.

The shoes were a great fit and oh so pretty!

I found another cute pair as well.  Both pairs will look great under jeans or dress pants.

Another thing I discovered at Goodwill…

The kids love the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, and my friend, Barb, said that Rules of Attraction is one of the most sought-after books at school.  I bought the Nicholas Sparks book just because it was the first book that made me cry when I read it years ago.

I’ll admit that the “savings” added up, and I wound up spending a bit more than I’d anticipated.  Oh well.  Sometimes you just can’t put a price on the value of reading!

Next on our to-do list was a stop at Ulta.  We both had coupons we’d received in the mail, and we were eager to spend save a buck!  I wound up buying four bottles of Ulta Shampoo/Conditioner, which actually works great on my hair and was on sale for buy one, get one half off.

By the time I arrived home, I was happy and a little tired.  It took a second trip to the car to bring in everything…

What a wonderful way to kick off my birthday weekend.  Spending time with Maegan rejuvenated me.  We bounced teaching ideas off of one another, gave each other validation, and grew closer as friends.

I adore this young woman and am so blessed that I could share my birthday-eve with her.

Please say a prayer for my Chicklets.  They are on their way home, spending my birthday weekend/Easter with us and bringing with them a few friends.

The house will be filled with lots of laughter and fun, and I cannot wait.

Could you also say a prayer for Aubie.  She’s had a bad couple of days.  We’re very nervous.  Her health condition is the one sad spot right now.

Thanks all!

Reading Endorsement – A Fresh Perspective

For over a year now, I’ve been working on my Reading Endorsement certification.

I began last January but took August through October off to get my classroom routines regulated.  The beginning of the school year is very stressful.

For those of you who may not understand the purpose of this certification, it is what allows those of us who do not have a Masters degree in Reading to teach this subject.  We take several very specialized courses on how to diagnose reading problems, how to tailor instruction for specific needs, and how to utilize research-based reading strategies to help our students.

If you ask anyone who’s been through the program how it was, and you’ll hear a big sigh.

I can’t say that I won’t be one of those people after I finish, but if I take an honest look at the process, I have to say that I have learned more in this series of classes than any other education courses I’ve taken in the past.

I am in my fifth and final class…the dreaded practicum.  It’s where I have to put all of the knowledge gained in the previous four classes to use and actually apply what I’ve learned.

Imagine that.  The teacher becoming a student.

The last thing I have to do is teach the lessons that I’ve written and which my instructor has approved.

For me, part of this preparation is creating Smart Notebook files.

I have always embraced technology…even more so in the last year since my school received new equipment and software.

Creating my Smart files helps me unpack the curriculum.  As I design each page, I am forced to mentally walk through my lesson…how I will say things…how the presentation will look to my students…whether I think they will be engaged in the learning process.

I took some screen shots of a few of the pages I created for…get this…ONE lesson plan.  All total, I’ve got eighteen pages, I think.  I’m sharing five or six.

The lesson I’ll be filming next week has to do with fluency and comprehension.  Although some of the instruction may seem elementary, even high school students who are struggling readers need the reminders.  Oftentimes, they pick up tips that do improve their comprehension.

For the fluency part, we’re going to cover the different types of punctuation that writers use and how each affects the way we read the sentences.  I created a table with cells hidden.  The reason why they are shaded is because there will be discussion about each, and I will reveal those cells as the discussion progresses.

Next, I’ll teach my students how to highlight the punctuation as it occurs in text.  Humans, by nature, are visual, so the highlighting will serve as visual reminders of when to pause, when to raise their voices, when to stop, etc.  I listen to these kids read every day, and hearing them run roughshod through punctuation is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Ugh.

We will do some guided practice, using text from the book The Lightening Thief, which I’d just finished when I wrote this lesson plan for my Reading Endorsement class.  That’s the sheet I’ll pass out to my students to complete.  I’ll also display it on my Smartboard.

The second part of this lesson will involve a during-reading strategy called “Say Something.”  During this strategy, students stop after reading chunks of text, reflect using question starters, and then continue reading.  At the end of a passage, they will summarize…a task that should be easier because they’ve stopped and reflected at various points along the way.

The text I used for this portion of the lesson came from Unwind by Neal Shusterman…one of my newly-discovered and now favorite authors.

I’ll touch the black square to reveal my Think Aloud, which is a scaffolding technique that teachers use to help students understand what’s going through a good reader’s mind as he/she reads.

There’s a lot of metacognition (thinking about the thinking process) that has to go on for a student to be successful.  Asking why we need to do certain things helps us understand…gives each lesson a purpose.

There are pieces to the lesson that I haven’t shared, so if the above sounds hit and miss, don’t misunderstand.  I would have bored you to tears with the nine or ten pages that my lesson encompassed.

You know, teachers often complain about the things they have to do.

I’ve worked my tail off this Spring Break and heard myself saying the same thing a couple of nights ago…a night in which I’d spent almost twelve hours prepping lesson plans for next week.

BUT, I know that classes and programs such as Reading Endorsement are designed to make me a better teacher.

My heart goes out to my students.

FCAT isn’t just stressful for the kids.

It’s stressful for us teachers as well.

If one of the strategies I’ve learned from Reading Endorsement helps even one of my students reach that magic number needed to pass, I will be one happy lady.

Regardless of how many pass, most of my kids are making learning gains.

Some of that has to be attributed to the lessons I’m taking from this program and applying in my classroom.

Easter 2013 Hodgepodge

It’s Joyce’s Easter-y Hodgepodge.  She’s taking a break next week to spend time with her daughter, and I am so happy for her.  My own kiddos are coming home this weekend, so I completely understand.  Join along and link back up with Joyce!

1.  What are your plans for Easter? Are you cooking a big lunch or dinner?  Dyeing eggs? Attending a sun rise service?  Eating too much chocolate?

My plans will include attending church as a family.  Both kids are coming home this weekend.  I imagine we will eat lunch out.  Chicky is bringing a friend home, and she’s requested an Easter egg dyeing kit, so I’m thinking maybe we’ll hunt eggs?  We shall see.  I’m up for whatever the kids want to do.  I won’t be eating chocolate.  Aside from my Starbucks hot chocolates, which I’ve just about given up after someone swiped the soy for real milk (I am lactose intolerant and had a bad reaction), I don’t do chocolate any more.

2.  What is something you feel too young to do?

Hmmm…this is actually tougher to answer than I thought when I first read it.  I’m in my early 40’s, which means I’m too old for a few things but not really too young for much.

I guess I’m too young to be crochety about life, fart in public and get away with it, and ask for a senior discount.  Those are things reserved for the *ahem* older generation.  heehee

3.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”  

Of the characteristics mentioned in the biblical definition of love which do you find most difficult to live out and why?

There used to be a Wee Sing kids song that had these words.  That’s actually how I learned these verses.

Tough question, Joyce.  I guess I’d have to say that not keeping a record of wrongs is the most difficult part for me.  I’m your typical female who has a long memory, and I find it very difficult to let go of the things that people have done, purposely and not, to hurt me.  Memories of hurt feelings and injustices creep in, souring opportunities for reconciliation.  This is something that causes me great angst because it lies at the core of a Believer’s faith…that God sees the blood of Jesus covering my sins and forgives all since I’ve put my trust in His redeeming work on the cross.

4.  What’s a springtime flower you associate with your childhood?

Are there certain flowers that only bloom during Springtime?  A gardener, I am not.

What I always associate with the changing of seasons and, more importantly, Easter, is the Dogwood tree and the beautiful story behind its blooms.  Dogwoods are just about my favorite tree ever because there were a couple in my backyard when I was growing up, and the blooms were gorgeous each year.

5.  Ever sung karaoke? If so, what’s your go-to song? If not and you’re given the opportunity, would you?

I have never sung karaoke, and you will never find me doing so.  I once listened to the playback of everyone singing happy birthday to Chicky, and my voice was loudest because I had been the person recording the singing.  AWFUL.  It took me years to be brave enough to sing aloud in church after that.

6.  What is something you keep in a basket?

Yarn.  In many baskets.  In many places around the house.  Though I don’t get to knit much these days because teaching takes up ALL OF MY TIME (grrr), one day, I will once again touch my precious yarn and empty those baskets.  I’m even going to buy more yarn tomorrow when I go for my traditional shopping excursion an hour and a half away to my favorite yarn store.  I might have to pick up another basket along the way.

heehee

7.  When was the last time you felt foolish?

Just a few days ago, I was feeling aggravated because someone had promised to do something for me, and I still had not heard from this person.  I even complained to the Mr. about it and planned to do it myself during Spring Break.  About the time I’d closed my mouth, my phone rang.  Yep.  It was the person calling to meet up with the thing that had been promised.  Sigh.  How quick I can be to judge sometimes.

8.  My Random Thought

I thought I would update you on Aubie.

She continues to hold on, bless her heart.  She’s had a good few days.  I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean she’s getting better, but the Mr. and I are so thankful for each day we are given.  She’s not fully cognizant of what she’s supposed to do, but she seems happy most of the time.  I’m just happy that she’s still wagging her tail and is able to get up and go outside, even if she forgets what she’s supposed to do while she’s out there sometimes.

I’m especially grateful for Spring Break and being home with her.

Please continue to lift us all up in your prayers.  I don’t know what each day will hold, but I continue to trust in God’s will for all of our lives.

Not Hardy Har Har about Hardee’s

Dear Hardee’s,

While watching a family-friendly show last night, I was, unfortunately, sad to discover how low you will go in the interest of making a buck.

Your newest commercial, which stars Heidi Klum, was the latest in a string of what can only be described as being done in poor taste.

Why is it that you feel the need to sexualize your food.

Oh wait.

Is it because you think that your customers actually like this?

Are all of your customers men, or are you under the impression that you’re selling sexualized burgers to an equal number of women…all of whom go running to your establishment on account of the commercials that are playing.

I find it sad that I cannot watch a television show, in the presence of my grown son, without being embarrassed when one of your commercials is aired.

There should be a Rated X disclaimer.

I would not sit through scenes like this in a movie, and I carefully monitor what I watch on television.

Unfortunately, I don’t get forewarned about the commercials that are about to air.

If so, I can promise you that I would opt NOT to watch yours.

I’m rather disappointed that a company such as yours, which has been around for quite a long time, would stoop so low.

I grew up eating your burgers.  In fact, my boyfriend and I used to drive thirty minutes just to pick up dinner there.  I lived in a small town that didn’t offer fast food.  Those drives were worth it.

Currently, I live less than 1/2 mile away…so close I could walk.

I can promise you that I would rather starve than put money into the pockets of the executives who allow such marketing to continue.

What kind of message are you sending to women around the world with these disgusting depictions?

What kind of message are you sending men?

The female body is not another piece of meat.

Shame must also be placed on the women who allow themselves to be used in your ads.

Heidi has children, for heaven’s sake.  I’m sure that she’s going to want to watch her daughter lick the side of a burger when she gets older.

Gross.

You want to know something, though?  The reason why they probably are in your ads is because someone else showed them, via movies or print ads, that this was okay.

I challenge you to hire a new advertising agency.

The one you have isn’t doing you any favors.

For shame.

You know, sometimes that extra buck just isn’t worth lowering your values.

Novel concept?

Try going back to basics.

It used to work just fine.

When You Love Your Students…

When you love your students, you’ll jump on Amazon every payday and order things like what you see below…

One of my students had told me about Numbers and had even loaned his copy to me.  It was a little rough, but only because the setting is England, and the main characters’ (teenagers) language is a bit course.  The ending was open, though, leading to the sequel, The Chaos.  My student bought this book but hasn’t read it because he’s trying to finish a book I recommended for him.  I wanted to read the second book and have a copy of both for my room…hence the order.

The other book I ordered this go-round is this…

I learned about Everlost from the 100 Book Challenge group that I’m a member of on Facebook.  The author is Neal Shusterman.  He also wrote Unwind
and Unwholly.  I’ve friended him (or his fan club) on Facebook, and I love the way he goes about naming some of his characters.  Recently, he asked for suggestions on Facebook.  He’s nearly finished writing the third installment of the Unwind series, and he needed some help .  It was a lot of fun to watch the process.

I don’t know if my students fully appreciate the things I do for them.  I doubt that most of them do…right now.  I think that years from now, when they remember their time in my class, they will remember the little things, like brand new books, appearing about every two or three weeks and the book talks that accompanied their entry into the classroom.

I’d do just about anything, including standing on a chair (which my principal caught me doing) to get my kids excited about reading and, most importantly, about learning, which are life-long processes that won’t end until their last breaths are taken.

 

Just When Things Were Looking Bleak

Just when things were looking bleak, the sun came out…

Pele and Aubie didn’t want to let a minute go to waste!

Aubie has had a good couple of days.  The Mr. found her standing in the middle of the house barking at the yard people on Friday.

Although it took some coaxing, we think she was happy once we got her outside.  Her face clearly speaks of her joy.

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